| By Steven Kaplan

While tennis coaches work from a similar body of knowledge, they tend to differ in how they prioritize and apply teaching methods, and philosophy. If a coach’s values compliment and reinforce a player’s values and the outlook of the player’s parents, then the relationship is probably a good fit. This month, I will address a narrow, but vital, coaching topic—learning. I have tried to simplify this complex area, by offering here, the headlines of my 20 favorite concepts on learning.

1. Be an active, not a passive, learner and participate in your development process.
2. Concentration is a skill, and like all skills, improvement comes from practice.
3. Thinking promotes learning but inhibits performance. Be self-aware in practice and just play at match time.
4. Assume responsibility for your educational behavior and behave responsibly.
5. Talent is a gift, problem solving is a choice, chose wisely.
6. Be prepared to learn and work at all times.
7. Winning matters, in the preparation of a point, game, set or match.
8. Winning is important while playing.
9. Having won makes no difference afterwards.
10. Formulate and clarify immediate, short-term, intermediate and long-term goals.
11. Education in the classroom and on the tennis court is synergistic.
12. All that is learned is ultimately learned from experience, either your own or someone else's. Someone else's is easier.
13. “Learning” and “liking” are not the same. Separate the message from the messenger.
14. Manage conflicting information with logical integrity, observational consistency and successful results.
15. “Knowing” provides the road map for learning. “Understanding” is necessary if you cannot read maps.
16. Good instruction expresses the fundamentals in a distinctive style.
17. Decisiveness is often more valuable than correctness when performing.
18. If a tossed coin lands on heads 99 times in a row, the odds of it landing on heads on the 100th toss is still 50 percent. Patterns are always clearer in hindsight.
19. Simple solutions are preferable. Change your aim before you change your strokes.
20. It is never too late to learn what is always necessary to know.

 

Steven Kaplan

Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.